Andre Ethier’s frightening most similar list

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According to Baseball-Reference similarity scores, here are the 10 most comparable players to Andre Ethier through age 29:

1. Dmitri Young
2. Richie Zisk
3. Rondell White
4. Jacque Jones
5. Aubrey Huff
6. Bobby Higginson
7. Corey Hart
8. Ellis Valentine
9. Jim Edmonds
10. Tony Oliva

Talk about a scary list. I’m not saying it’s worth putting much weight into similarity scores like this, but… yikes. Of course, the Dodgers just gave Ethier a five-year, $85 million contract with what apparently is a pretty easy vesting option for 2018. The five guaranteed years will cover Ethier’s age 31-35 seasons.

For the record, of the eight retired players here, just one hit 100 homers after age 31. That was Edmonds, a late bloomer who hit 230. Huff may get there — he has 86 the last five years — but he’s certainly not someone Dodgers fans want to see Ethier compared to.

The four most similar players to Ethier averaged a total of 53 homers and 204 RBI in their careers from age 31 onwards. The injury-prone White was the most successful of the bunch, and he averaged 13 homers and 53 RBI per season in his final five years.

Of course, I think Ethier will do better than that. But none of these other guys figured to fall off the map like they did, either. I do expect that come 2017, the Dodgers are going to be dreading Ethier’s $17.5 million vesting option. It’ll be much like Bobby Abreu’s $9 million vesting option that kept him with the Angels over the winter; the team won’t want it, but there may be no way to avoid it.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.